When I decided to preach this series over the summer I posted the topic on Facebook and asked for suggestions. Some were helpful while others were not. I recall one friend of mine posting, “Don’t go into the water for an hour after you’ve eaten” as a topic. He’s a funny guy.
The suggestion that caught me off guard came from my homiletics professor from college. He simply posted, “You have to do one one Jeremiah 29:11.” My response was positively pavlovian. Blood drained from my face and I think I got the shakes. Suddenly I was 21 years old again, sitting in Senior Seminar and preparing myself to be raked over the coals for the way I screwed up my praxis. I wonder if this is some form of PTSD.
“Have to.” Yep…I have to NOW!
The response to the sermon was overwhelmingly positive. I was surprised. I honestly expected some pushback from the “Name it and claim it” crowd. Apparently they don’t exist in my church, or in my circle of online listeners.
Actually, I’m starting to wonder if they exist much at all in communities of faith. I am starting to think that those who read Jeremiah 29:11 as their own personal “life verse” probably don’t have much of a relationship with the rest of the word or much of a depth of fellowship with other believers. I think they’ve likely latched onto something that sounds good and are clinging to it out on their own.
That’s a little extra sad.
Looking back on the sermon now I’m disappointed in the end. I really didn’t have much of a call for my audience. I really liked where I took them with the idea of telling the story of their own hope (1 Peter 3:15) as opposed to the hope of the exiles. I think I could have spent some time bringing in some very practical examples of that.